Exclusive: Andrew E. Harrod exposed the myth of the shared Christian – Muslin Jesus
By Andrew E. Harrod
“We have more in common than we think,” concludes Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper with respect to Christian and Muslim understandings of Jesus in a December 23, 2013, USA Today editorial. Yet this reprint there and elsewhere of an older Christmas article from a Hamas-offshoot and unindicted terrorist coconspirator organization deceptively glosses over deep, sometimes dangerous (for Christians) theological differences.
The Caucasian Muslim convert (formerly named Doug) and supporter of American Islamic governance Hooper argues that, along with Christians, “Muslims also love and revere Jesus as one of God’s greatest messengers to mankind.” Hooper notes that the Quran speaks of Jesus “held in honor in this world and the Hereafter” (3:45) and as a “sign for the whole world” (21:91). In the Quran Jesus is strengthened by the “holy spirit” (2:87, capitalized by Hooper, but not by various Quran translations) and born of a Mary who wonders how she can have a son as a virgin (3:47).
Hooper’s other Islamic Jesus references, though, become more problematical for Christians. He cites Quran 57:27 to the effect that Jesus received the Gospel and His followers “compassion and mercy.” Hooper, however, fails to mention that this verse calls “monasticism” something “invented” by Christians and yet not implemented properly by often “defiantly disobedient.”
Hooper also notes how Jesus in Quran 5:110 heals the blind and lepers. Unmentioned by Hooper, another miracle attributed to Jesus by Quran 5:110 (and the similar verse 3:49) is the turning of clay into a bird. As religions scholar Kate Zebiri wrote in an article (PDF copy here), this is the only Jesus miracle in the Quran but not the Bible, although this miracle appears in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. This similarity with an apocryphal writing rejected by Christians as inaccurate calls into question the accuracy and origins of the Quran, held by Muslims to be God’s revelation. Likewise Quran 19:23-25 present Mary birthing Jesus under a palm tree, not in a manger, an account traced by various scholars to the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew.
Citing 5:110, Hooper qualifies Jesus’ miracles in the Quran as occurring “with God’s permission.” This qualification, though, raises the Christian criticism that Jesus, being God incarnate in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, does not need anyone’s permission for anything. In the Bible Jesus’ “miracles are usually seen as unique by Christians,” Zebiri notes, “in that he seems to do them on his own authority” in contrast to other Biblical figures. Individuals, for example, could heal simply by touching Jesus’ clothing (e.g. Mark 5:25-34, 6:56), indicating that the “healing power seems somehow to have inhered in Jesus.”
Hooper thus follows the Quran’s “oft-repeated denial that Jesus shares in the divinity” described by Zebiri. As Hooper’s citation of Quran 2:136 indicates, Islam makes “no distinction” between Jesus understood merely as a prophet and other Biblical figures. All these “prophets are paternal brothers,” as Hooper’s reference to hadith 4.55.652 from the hadith collection considered most accurate by Muslims, that of Imam Bukhari, indicates.
Moreover, the prophets’ “religion is one,” namely Islam. Thus “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim,” like other Biblical figures, Quran 3:67 specifies. Only subsequent corruption of Judaism and Christianity concealed God’s original revelation of Islam, finally perfected in Muhammad, Quran 33:40’s “seal of the prophets,” to which all signs like Jesus direct. Therefore Muhammad, and not any lowly sinner who recognizes Jesus atoning sacrifice for sin on the cross, is “nearest of all the people to Jesus.”
By contrast, those saying “Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary” and “Allah is the third of three” have “certainly disbelieved” according to Quran 5:72-73. Their “refuge is the Fire” and they will receive a “painful punishment.” As for the cross, Quran 4:157-59 denies that Jesus ever suffered crucifixion. While Muslims “believe Jesus will return to earth in the last days” as mentioned by Hooper, in the Islamic rendering in Sahih Bukhari hadith 3.43.656 Jesus, among other things, comes to “break the cross” and “kill the pigs.” Although Jesus will be a “just ruler,” he will, according to 4.55.658, “judge people by the Law of the Quran and not by the law of Gospel.”
Hooper’s invocation of a “shared religious heritage” despite “some differing perspectives” among Christians and Muslims including the “love, peace and forgiveness taught by Jesus” is also questionable. As one Muslim website explains, for example, salvation in Islam depends upon measuring personal behavior in divine “scales of justice,” albeit weighted in favor of good deeds. As Christian critics note, this means that Muslims can never have Christian grace’s certainty of salvation.
Thus some Muslims “become frenzied when they break the rules” among Islam’s “enormous list,” World editor Marvin Olasky once noted (republished here), leading “to a search for a ‘get out of jail free’ card.” This pass, in the words of one law journal article, comes in the Muslim doctrine that “believers who give their lives…in a military jihad…immediately enter paradise.” Quran 4:74 and 9:111 and Sahih Bukhari hadith 9.93.555, for example, support this tenet.
A host of Quran verses, meanwhile, reference warfare against non-Muslims (e.g. 2:190-93, 8:12, 8:39, 8:60, 9:5, 9:29, 9:123, 47:4). Muslim norms mandating death for apostasy and blasphemy provide further opportunities for Islamic violence. The resulting reality for Christians in the now majority-Muslim Middle East is a “scary, not merry Christmas” as described by an article appearing the same day as Hooper’s deceptive superficiality. Particularly “Christmastime is a favorite time for violence” by Muslims against Christians, religious law scholar Robert P. George recently observed, making many Christians “approach the season with a mixture of fear and dread,” much as Jews feared Good Friday pogroms in the past. Hooper’s “interfaith understanding” appeal should therefore recall Jesus’ injunction to the apostles sent “out like sheep among wolves”: be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).